Your engagement ring is one of the most important purchases you make in your life. Not only is it an investment, but there are a lot of factors you need to decide between. What shape and cut of diamond do you want? How many carats fit into your budget? What setting suits your style the most?
One question that we’ve settled on is that of choosing between a lab-grown and earth-grown diamond. Not only are lab-grown diamonds ethically sourced, but they’re better for your budget too (lab-grown diamonds tend to run 20-30 percent less than earth-mined ones) — and yes, they are still real diamonds.
To answer all of your diamond questions, we’ve turned to experts at Clean Origin, the place to go to for lab-grown diamonds. Not only do they create diamonds that are eco-friendly, ethically sourced, and competitively priced, but their rings are completely customizable to your personal style — as something you’ll be wearing every day should be. Make the process of choosing your engagement and wedding ring exciting, not stressful, with our ultimate guide to choosing your ring:
What are lab-grown diamonds? Are lab-grown diamonds considered “real” diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to mined diamonds, and they are a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale — the only difference is their origin.
If you compared a lab-grown diamond to one grown in the earth, would you be able to see a difference? Would a professional be able to see a difference?
Visually, lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds are identical; even to a professional, they would be indistinguishable. In order to differentiate a lab-grown diamond from a mined diamond, the stones would need to be tested using a highly specialized machine. That being said, lab-grown diamonds that are certified by a large lab and will have a laser inscription on the girdle of the stone. The laser inscription will indicate “ Lab-Grown,” along with the diamond’s certification number.
How do the prices between a lab-grown diamond and mined diamond compare?
Lab-grown diamonds tend to be at least 20-30 percent less than mined diamonds with the same specifications. In fact, a savings of 40- 50 percent is not uncommon, particularly when purchasing larger size stones.
How are lab-grown diamonds grown? How long does the process take?
Lab-grown diamonds are formed through two processes: HPHT, High-Pressure High Temperature, and CVD, Chemical Vapor Deposition. HPHT diamonds start as a small diamond seed which is placed into carbon and exposed to extreme temperatures and high pressure — conditions similar to those beneath the earth’s surface.
A CVD diamond starts as a thin slice of the diamond seed, which is placed in a highly heated chamber, and filled with carbon-rich gases. Through the magic of technology, carbon bonds with the diamond seed, and it crystallizes.
Lab-grown diamonds can be grown in 6-12 weeks’ time.
Does choosing a lab-grown diamond over a mined diamond compromise anything?
Purchasing a lab-grown diamond over a mined diamond does not compromise anything at all. In fact, with a lab-grown diamond, you get a beautiful, ethically sourced stone for a fraction of the price of a mined diamond. It’s a win-win.
Are lab-grown diamonds certified and graded on the same scale that mined ones are?
Yes, lab-grown diamonds are graded using the same standards that are used for mined diamonds. They are graded based on the diamond’s four Cs — color, cut, clarity, and carat.
Each diamond is graded by several gemologists at the lab, and the grades are compiled to ascertain a final grade.
Lab-grown diamonds are graded using the same standards that are used for mined diamonds.
Can you explain the four Cs? How should I decide where on each scale I want my diamond to fall?
The four Cs represent the color, cut, clarity, and carat weight.
The color actually refers to the lack of color in a diamond. D, E, and F are colorless diamonds that present as the whitest stones, D being the highest color grade available. G, H, I, and J are considered near colorless diamonds and will have warmer tones.
The cut refers to how well a diamond is cut and polished and how well proportioned the stone is — it does not refer to the diamond’s shape. A well-cut diamond will have brilliance and sparkle, while a poorly cut stone may not reflect light with the same amount of luster. For a round shape diamond, the cut is the most important of the four Cs. It is what determines a diamond’s brilliance and fire.
Clarity refers to the quality of a diamond as it relates to the existence, location, and type of inclusions or “birthmarks” that the diamond has. Internal characteristics are known as inclusions, and they can be seen as small imperfections in the stone. Diamonds with higher clarity grades are more valued, with “Internally Flawless – IF” topping the list. VVS1- VS2 diamonds are eye clean diamonds, meaning no inclusions will be visible to the naked eye. While SI1 and SI2 stones are technically eye clean, but some can detect the imperfections depending upon the type and location of the inclusions without magnification. And included diamonds (I1, I2) have inclusions that will be visible without magnification.
The carat weight of a diamond reflects the actual weight of a diamond, while the dimensions of a diamond reflect the measurements and how the weight is distributed. That being said, you can have a diamond with a lower carat weight that offers larger measurements than a diamond of a higher carat weight.
Many things will be taken into account when deciding where you want your diamond to fall in the grading scale. The first question to ask yourself is what is most important to you — is the size of the stone that most impresses you, or is it the color? Or is the most important thing the diamond’s sparkle and fire? How important is clarity to you? Is “eye-clean” your desire? Based on your wishlist, we can determine what is non-negotiable regarding the attributes of your diamond, consider your budget, and take it from there!
What are the benefits of choosing a lab-grown diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds. They are physically, chemically, and optically identical to mined diamonds, and they are offered at a great savings. They are ethically sourced, eco-friendly, and stunning! There are absolutely no negatives associated with purchasing a lab-grown diamond. It truly is a purchase that you can feel good about — no buyer’s remorse here!
How does diamond mining impact the environment? Why should I consider choosing a lab-grown over a mined diamond when it comes to the environment and ethics?
I will leave this question to the experts! This subject is far too important! You can read more about mined diamons here.
Lab grown diamonds are real diamonds.. They are physically, chemically, and optically identical to mined diamonds, and they are offered at a great savings.
Ordering something as important as an engagement ring online can seem scary — how does choosing a ring online compare to choosing one in person?
Ordering online, especially for a purchase as significant and emotional as an engagement ring, can be daunting, but no worries. We offer magnified 360-degree views of our diamonds and rings so you can clearly see all of the characteristics of the stone, and they are all accompanied by the diamond’s certification papers. An independent lab has certified the diamond, and each stone has their certification number on the girdle of the diamond. Much like a serial number, it identifies your diamond and provides the customer with added security.
We understand the challenges faced when purchasing a diamond online, and we want our customers to be 100 percent confident with their purchase, so we are here to help. We can assist you with finding diamonds, comparing stones, choosing a setting, and any other questions you may have. Reach out to us via email, live chat, or set up a phone consultation — whichever is most convenient. We develop strong relationships with our customers, and we ensure that their experience is as positive as any in-person shopping experience (and we hope even better!). And because we believe in transparency and offering our best prices every day, there is no unnecessary waiting for a sale or exhausting negotiating; instead, you can be certain you received the best price possible.
When designing an engagement ring, do you recommend beginning by choosing a diamond, or choosing a setting first?
That is a personal choice, and building the perfect ring can be achieved by selecting the setting first or by selecting the diamond first. If you have your heart set on a specific setting, go for it! We will find a beautiful diamond to place in the center. If you have fallen in love with your diamond, don’t let it get away — we can help you find a setting that complements your diamond and works with your style.
What are the benefits of choosing platinum versus gold versus silver to have my ring set in?
Platinum is the strongest of the precious metals and perfect to set your diamond in. It is also hypo-allergenic and necessary for anyone who suffers from a metal allergy. It is the purest of the metals, and it will not turn color over time. It will maintain a nice white color while developing a natural patina with wear. It is best described as a satiny or frosted looking finish. Platinum also requires the least maintenance.
Gold is the most popular choice of metal for an engagement ring, and it is available in a variety of colors such as yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. 14K gold is 58.3 percent pure gold, and it is mixed with alloys to create a strong metal, making it safe for everyday wear. It offers more resistance to wear and tear than 18K which is 75 percent pure gold, making it a softer metal. White gold, both 14K and 18K, is dipped in rhodium to give the gold a high white shine. In time, the rhodium will wear, and the ring will need to be redipped to restore the luster.
Silver is not a common choice for engagement rings since the metal is soft and not safe to hold precious stones. It will not withstand normal wear, and it is also subject to tarnishing.
Can you explain a little more about diamond’s cut and clarity? Which is the best, and which is the worst?
For round brilliant stones, cut is the most important characteristic of the diamond. It is what determines the diamond’s sparkle and shine. For fancy cut diamonds, there is no internationally accepted grading system; therefore, no cut grade will be applied. If you come across a fancy shape diamond with a cut grade, it was done so at the discretion of the lab that graded it.
For round diamonds, the highest cut grade is Ideal, followed by Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Some diamonds have the precise Hearts and Arrows cut. Cut to ideal proportions with perfect optical symmetry and maximum light performance, these diamonds show a pattern of eight hearts visible through the pavilion (the bottom of the diamond), and eight arrows when the stone is facing up. The Hearts and Arrows pattern is visible through a Hearts and Arrows scope, but the optimum return of light achieved with this cut will be visible to the naked eye.
Clarity refers to the quality of a diamond as it relates to the existence, location, and type of inclusions or “birthmarks” that the diamond has. Internal characteristics are known as inclusions, and they can be seen as small imperfections in the stone. Diamonds with higher clarity grades are more valued, with “Flawless” topping the list. VVS1- VS2 diamonds are eye clean diamonds, meaning no inclusions will be visible to the naked eye. While SI1 and SI2 stones are technically eye clean, some can detect the imperfections depending upon the type and location of the inclusions without magnification. And included diamonds (I1, I2) have inclusions that will be visible without magnification.
To be certain that your diamond has no visible inclusions, select a stone that has a VVS or VS clarity. Keep in mind that you can find a savings when selecting a VS clarity diamond. It is not necessary to go for a VVS clarity and spend more since none of these diamonds will have inclusions that affect the beauty of the stone.
Are Clean Origin diamonds certified by the GIA?
Clean Origin diamonds are certified by IGI. We do not work with GIA, as GIA will not give specific color and clarity grades to lab-grown diamonds. For instance, if a stone is VS2 clarity, they will grade it as “VS,” which is the same grade that they would apply to a VS1 diamond. The same applies to color. If a stone is I color, it would be graded as “Near Colorless G/H/I/ J.”
We believe that this method is not accurate and can be confusing to our customers. We feel that it is important to be honest and transparent with our customers, and this grading method does not allow us to be.
If I receive my ring or diamond from you and it’s not what I expected, would I be able to send it back and alter my order?
Yes! Clean Origin offers a 100-day return policy — we cover the insurance and shipping costs to get the items back to us, and you will receive a full refund. There are no hidden restocking fees or other costs associated with the return. If you wish to exchange your ring or your diamond (or both), that is also an option. The process is stress-free!
This post was in partnership with Clean Origin, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.